Home maintenance isn’t restricted to repairs. In fact, certain tasks–when performed regularly–may actually prevent things from breaking in the first place. But when things do go wrong (and it’s inevitable that they do), we have some backup plans that you can try before you grab the phone to call for pro. Appliances and plumbing are the most frequent offenders, but they also often can be the simplest to care for. From the gutters to the living room carpet, there’s a reliable method for keeping every part of your home clean, safe, and well maintained.
The quickest fix is to not have the problem in the first place. Here’s a checklist of items every homeowner should get to regularly.
1. Test your garage door opener monthly to ensure that it reverses when it hits an obstruction or when its sensor beam is interrupted.
2. Vacuum the clothes dryer’s exhaust duct at least once a year. If the duct is plastic, replace it (it’s a fire hazard). Rigid sheet-metal ducting is best.
3. Replace furnace filters quarterly, or as recommended by the furnace manufacturer.
4. Test all GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets monthly. Press the test button and use a voltage tester to make sure the power goes off.
5. Clean leaves and debris from the condenser of a central air conditioner seasonally.
6. Once a year, vacuum the refrigerator coils underneath the appliance.
7. Have the fireplace chimney inspected and cleaned annually.
8. Inspect window and door caulking and weather stripping yearly.
9. Replace the batteries in smoke detectors yearly. And remember, even recent hard-wired smoke detectors have backup batteries that must be replaced. If you have never checked yours, do so.
Cleaning your gutters is the chore you abhor.
THE QUICK FIX
Make gutter cleaning easier–and safer (no ladder required)–with a long spray wand made from a 1/2-in.-diameter by 10-ft.-long PVC pipe. Cut two 6-in. lengths of pipe. Then use PVC cement to join these short sections and two 90-degree elbows with what is now a 9-ft.-long pipe, forming a J-shaped hook. At the short end of the hook, glue on a solid endcap. Drill three 1/8-in.- diameter holes in the cap. Glue a threaded adapter onto the opposite end of the pipe and attach a garden hose. Place the short end of the J-shaped hook inside the gutter and turn on the hose. As you walk along the house, high-pressure streams of water will rinse the gutter clean.